Much defaced over time, this spectacular temple is nonetheless worth a visit. It was built by Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt as queen between about 1479 and 1458 B.C. Though she was a successful ruler, subsequent Pharaohs effaced her name where possible from her monuments, and her temple against the cliff of Deir al Bahri (named for the Coptic monastery that was installed on the site well after the temple had disappeared from view) is no exception.
Approaching the temple, you'll see that it rises in three massive terraces. The first two were originally covered in trees, and if you look around carefully you can still see stumps. If you pause at the colonnades between the first and second terraces, there are some illustrations of boat building and the transportation of obelisks, but the most famous illustrations are at the back of the second terrace. Here, on the left-hand side, there are paintings that show a trading expedition to the land of Punt.
The other two must-see areas of the temple are the chapels of Hathor and Anubis, which are on the left and right, respectively, of the ramp leading up to the third terrace. The Chapel of Hathor bore the brunt of the defacement that followed Hatshepsut's death, but a colorful depiction of a massive naval parade remains, and the massive pillars are also intact. The Chapel of Anubis, however, with its 12 fluted columns and amazingly preserved colors, has a certain grace and, if you can find a moment when it's not jammed with camera-pointing tourists, tranquility.
- © Frommer's 2013
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